Ubiquitous glucose monitors could detect diseases

Inexpensive and easy-to-use personal glucose monitors are everywhere--and they could be used to test DNA anywhere.

The devices, which are used by millions of people with diabetes, could be adapted into a home DNA detector to perform tests for viruses and bacteria in bodily fluids, food and other substances, scientists reported in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Developing low-cost tests to quickly diagnose disease, check the safety of food and conduct other tests "is one of the greatest challenges in chemistry," the researchers said. "Such tests could improve health and reduce costs, especially for people in developing countries or rural areas in developed countries with scant medical resources," according to an American Chemical Society announcement.

For example, the investigators were able to detect hepatitis B DNA fragments in concentrations that rival the sensitivity of traditional DNA detectors, Medgadget reports.

It's not the first project that aims to bring diagnostics to the masses. Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology are investigating how to detect diseases by placing biological samples on smartphone and tablet touchscreens, FierceMobileHealthcare reported.

Such concepts could make the burgeoning lab-in-a-chip industry irrelevant--turning personal devices and gadgets into a diagnostic platform, rather than simply receiving the diagnostic data, according to a New Scientist report.

To learn more:
- read the ACS announcement
- see the study abstract
- check out the Medgadget article
- read about smartphone diagnostics in FierceMobileHealthcare
- check out the New Scientist report